Y'know, if you're going to have a slavegirl writhe in slave heat while you eat, you ought at have her farther away from the table, so you can SEE her!
copyright 2005 by Pat Powers
The harem girl fantasy has fallen on hard times in recent decades. You want to see the full extent of the hard times that harem girl themes have fallen to nowadays? Watch Warlords. It's a Roger Corman film about a bunch of morons running around in the Southern California desert after the apocalypse, killing and chasing each other for little or no reason. Which is to say, it's pretty much the same as half the flicks Corman has produced in the last decade or two.
Top to bottom, left to right: Brinke Stevens strapped topless to an X-frame
the film opened with a car chse, with this harem girl tied in the back seat of the car being chased. Nice.
"All right, who ordered the double slavegirl with chains special, one topless?"
Ross Hagen has to carry a bound Dawn Wildsmith over his shoulder. Poor fella, all that slavegirl carrying and molesting must tire a guy out.
Warlords is not even the worst of the post-apocalyptic hairballs Corman has coughed up -- that "accolade" remains the property of Aftershock, which has absolutely nothing going for it. Warlords at least has Dawn Wildsmith, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Debra Lamb and sundry harem girls in bondage. But that's about all it has.
Still, this is about the only exploitation film in recent years (it was made in 1988) to feature an actual harem with slavegirls and everything. One dances with a sword balanced on her head, another gets friendly with a snake, a third lies on the floor with her back bent at one of those impossible angles that trained (and limber) belly dancers can manage.
Dawn Wildsmith and David Carradine are the stars of the movie, and they along with B-movie veterans Ross Hagen, Brink Stevens and Sid Haig do their best to de-lousy the movie, but there's not much they can do with all the nothing they've been given to work with. Wildsmith plays a post-apocalyptic female adventurer who starts out the movie wearing a leather harness around her breasts (which, sadly, are covered) and winds up in a black vinyl dominatrix boustier with fishnet stockings. Carradine is a semi-mystical warrior sort who's clearly destined to defeat the evil warlord and his mutant henchpersons.
The sets consist entirely of some old cars in the desert, some tents pitched in the desert, and the desert. We are talking cheap-ass moviemaking here. Worse yet, we're talking a movie that looks cheap-ass. James Cameron once said that every penny of the millions that were spent on Titanic were right up there on the screen. I suspect that Warlords had a budget that barely made it to four digits -- and every bit of that penury is up there on the screen. There are some shots of helicopters flying around shooting missiles and some shots of tanks and blown up cities in the opening, but rest assured they're clips from other Roger Corman films. Nobody's bank account was harmed in the making of this movie.
Contrast that with the gorgeous sets, costumes and so forth in Son of Sinbad and you get a real feel for how far the harem girl theme has fallen. Granted, some of the harem girls are willing to spill their beautiful breasts and butts out of their costumes, and there was plenty of bondage, but it's a poor substitute for, well, EVERYTHING ELSE THAT MAKES A MOVIE A WORTH WATCHING!
Y'know, this scene is kinkier than I thought. It's not just Dawn Wildsmith's wrists that are secured to the post. Check out the chain in the lower right hand corner that's disappearing between Dawn's legs. Wonder what IT's attached to?
The harem girl theme is particularly harmed by the cheapness of Warlords. Harem girls and belly dancers are part of a fantasy of wealth, opulence and high culture. It's really convincing in movies like Son of Sinbad and Kismet. The harem girls in those films looked like the finest beauties of a rich and powerful land, trained for years to be a dream of pleasure and beauty for their owner, full of passion and fire and the ability to display it through dance.
But when everything is as unremittingly drab and piss-poor as it is in Warlocks, what you see is a bunch of cheap hoochies tarted up in spangles and shaking their butts. (Not that I think the actresses in Warlords were that, I just think the ugliness of the film made them look like that.)
"Now, hang on to that shackle real good, honey. It look like it's about to fall off. This is a Roger Corman film and they're not gonna shoot a retake for something like that."
Movies are supposed to offer fantasies that outstrip real life, but Warlords can't even MATCH real life.